Progress Continues For Pawuk's GTO Late-Season Push Bodes Well For '06 RICHFIELD, OH 10/29/05 Since the debut of his new Pontiac GTO at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk has returned to being a real factor...
Progress Continues For Pawuk's GTO
Late-Season Push Bodes Well For '06
RICHFIELD, OH 10/29/05 Since the debut of his new Pontiac GTO at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk has returned to being a real factor in the outcome of NHRA POWERade Series races. After struggling through the first half of what became the most trying season in his 20-year Pro Stock drag racing career, Pawuk is pleased by his team's progress, but he knows there's still a long way to go.
"We're getting there, slowly but surely," he said in the days following the Las Vegas outing. "Jerry Bickel built us a great new car, but he had a lot to work with. The GTO is one of the most aerodynamic race cars we've ever had, and thanks to our relationship with Ron Krisher, we've now got enough horsepower to not only qualify for eliminations, but maybe go a few rounds.
"We've absolutely been treating these last few races like test sessions in preparation for 2006, and we're going to be in that same mode at the AAA Finals in Pomona, California, next weekend. We have nothing to lose because the points race is over, so if we can learn something at the Finals that can help us at the Winternationals in February it might put us that much ahead of the game."
Pawuk's team was particularly pleased with the way the car performed in the slightly higher altitude of The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as it ran quicker in each of four successive qualifying attempts. "That's the kind of progress we like to see," admitted crew chief Marcus Bowen. "Every change we made to the car produced positive results, and you can't ask for more than that. When the car responds like that, you know you're on the right track.
"Mark did a good job behind the wheel, so if everything keeps coming together like that we could really surprise people next season. Heck, we might even surprise 'em at the Finals!"
Pawuk also admits to being more relaxed behind the wheel than he's sometimes been in the past. "There's no pressure on us at all, and that's actually made it easier for me. I'm not thinking about anything but trying to cut a good light," says the owner of Empaco Equipment Corporation, northern Ohio's largest service station refurbishment company. "When you're driving a good car like this one, and you've got plenty of power, your whole outlook changes. You go to the starting line believing you can win. You're not just going through the motions, and that changes everything. Now, I feel like I did a couple of years ago. I can't wait to get to the track, and I'm going to feel the same way in January, when we're getting ready for the Winternationals.
"Man, I'm already looking forward to that, but our first goal is the Finals this coming weekend, where we hope to end our season on a high note."
Next: NHRA AAA Finals, Pomona, California November 4-6